Travis Boak is widely known for being the captain of the Port Adelaide Football Club, but now he is determined to find his avenue away from the sporting landscape. In the next few weeks, the 29-year-old will launch ‘Rogers,’ an underwear label inspired by and named after his late father, Roger. He sat down with AFLPlayers.com.au to discuss how he has gone out of his comfort zone to launch the business and the profound effect it has had on his close-knit family.
I recall shooting a recent video with you and you showed us a few pairs of Rogers underwear and that’s where this interview idea started, but when did you discover that you wanted to launch this brand?
It’s funny, because it was around three years ago that I started chatting to my cousin about an idea, and she worked at Rip Curl at the time, and I’ve always been keen and interested to do something in fashion. So I originally thought it started three years ago, but a few months ago I realised that back in Year 10 I did an assignment for business where we had to create a company or a brand and I decided to create an underwear label for my subject. So maybe the idea was decided back then but I just didn’t know about it!
It’s funny how it’s worked out, but three years ago I spoke to my cousin and we went back and forth from there for the last few years. Then we discussed the name we were going to go with, and I had always wanted to create a business that linked back to dad, and she said, ‘Why don’t we call it Rogers?’ I thought it worked! From there, we wanted to create a business that in some way portrayed dad, so the business is linked to who he was as a person, his values, and what he believed in. Plus it links back to something I love which is fashion, so that’s the story of how it all came about.
And the time from ideation stage three years ago to where you are now involves a lot of hoops to go through. What types of things have you had to put in place for it to get here?
I’ve been fortunate that I haven’t had to do as much work as what my cousin has because of footy. She’s been over to China meeting with suppliers and designers, and it’s been around two years of back and forth with getting it all designed. It sort of came about because I’d never been able to find a perfect pair of undies that I love wearing out or in a game of footy under my bike shorts. I wanted something that was perfect and that takes time. I reckon I tried on 10-15 pairs of undies until we finally got the design and shape right to the point where it felt like you were wearing nothing but still had the support. It’s been a long process, but I’ve been fortunate enough to have received great support from my cousin and family, and that’s the best part. It’s a family business now and down the track mum will work with it as well. I hope people love what the product is and the story behind it all.
You spoke about wanting to promote your dad’s beliefs and values… for those that didn’t know him, what are the values and beliefs that you want to get across?
He was a super loyal person. He was really humble and caring and that’s what we want to create the business on, whether that’s dealing with people who like the product, or finding something that they don’t like about the product. We want to help create something that people really love and we want to listen to what they have to say and create something that makes them feel really comfortable in a pair of underwear. It’s only a simple thing and it’s only clothing, but we’ve all been in that position where you feel better because of what you’re wearing, and that’s what we want to get to. That’s what dad was about in terms of caring and looking out for other people. They were his values in life, and then we bring in that I love clothing and fashion and we join it together.
Talk me through the different ranges that you have on offer.
We have mens and womens underwear, so for the men we will have the trunks and briefs to start with, and for the women we’ll have the g-string and eventually we’ll have tops as well, crop tops or sports bras or whatever you want to call them. We have both ranges in cotton which is the main one that people wear, but also in a modal which is something that not too many people would know about — certainly men — it’s a different material, but it’s super soft. I didn’t know anything about it until we looked into it and it’s the most comfortable pair of underwear I’ve ever come across. I’m sure people will enjoy it.
And through this process you’ve had to put yourself out there a bit. I remember you discussed attending a promotional photoshoot in Sydney? How was that?
Yeah, I was up in Sydney a couple of weeks ago because we had to do the whole photoshoot for the campaign, and we thought it was best that I did it for the mens and it was one of the most daunting experiences I’ve ever had. I was more nervous doing that than playing in a final. It was pretty scary, but really good fun as well. In terms of the family business we want to create, that’s what we’re all about. We want to use myself or my family as much as we can.
Everyone talks about wanting to maximise your time in the game and developing your skillset outside of the game, and that involves getting out of your comfort zone. Through this process, have you found that putting your neck out has presented challenges you never knew you’d face?
Definitely! Whether it be sport or business, I’ve always wanted to try and put myself in an uncomfortable position to help me grow, and this has definitely been an uncomfortable position. There’s no doubt that this was a little bit scary and was something that I knew might cause a little bit of controversy, but also something that I wanted to do, regardless of whether I was scared or not. I’ve put a lot of money and time into it. It’s something that I wanted to do outside of footy because eventually I’ll stop playing. Hopefully it will help me grow as a person.
I really like the design you’ve gone for, the labels give an old-school and traditional vibe. How did you arrive at that look and feel?
I’m glad you said that, because that’s the style we were after. We wanted to touch on the more traditional and older style look. It’s something that I’ve always loved, I’ve never really loved the modern look on things. It also resembles dad’s era when he was in his prime playing footy in the 80s, and I was born then.
What’s next with the campaign in relation to launching the website, and then potentially selling in store?
That’s the main goal at the moment. We’ll start online and go from there. It’s about getting the name out there right now and filtering out the campaign. I hope that in three or four weeks we’ll be live online and then people can start buying from there.
I saw on Instagram you’ve been posting. Can we expect the traditional channels to be utilised?
At the moment we just have Instagram, but we’ll definitely get out on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook as well. The Instagram handle is @rogersunderwear.
Are there any big events or photoshoots coming up that we can expect to see you in?
Not at this stage. We’ll go with the soft launch to start with which will just be on social media, but then once footy season is finished we’ll have a bigger launch and go from there. Whether it be fashion shoots I’m not sure, but we’ll be looking to grow it from this point on.
I know family means a lot to you, so when you came up with this idea, can you remember talking to your mum about it and the impact that it had on her as a way of creating a legacy for your dad?
The first person I spoke to was mum and she always knew that I wanted to create some sort of label. When I said that I wanted to have dad involved in some way, she was just over the moon about it all. We’ve always been a really close family, and to have mum’s input is amazing because she’s a big part of this going forward. Once she saw all the photos that have gone into it and all the old photos of dad on our Instagram page, she loves the fact that we are getting our family story out there. We’re promoting dad’s legacy and mum is a huge part of that.
How have your teammates enjoyed the product? Have you received any feedback?
A few of the samples I have given to the players at the club and a couple of friends have been well received. They have all said they love them and can’t wait for the final product. I gave Brad Ebert some a fair while back and that was one of the early samples and he loved them. They have changed for the better since then, too. Now the boys at the club are asking where they’re undies are because they’re keen for a pair.
Knowing what players are like, they’ll probably try and leech more off you to get them from free…
Haha! Mate, they love all the free stuff!
Awesome, Travis. Thanks for the chat and and of luck with it.
No worries, Simon. Thank you.